Friday, October 23, 2009

Why Did That Northwest Plane Fly Past The Airport?

On Wednesday night, Northwest Airlines flight 188 from San Diego overshot its destination airport in Minneapolis by 150 miles, flying on for another 16 minutes before its two pilots discovered their error, turned the plane around and landed it safely. No one was hurt and the passengers didn't even realize that anything unusual had happened at all. It's now emerged, however, that the pilots failed to make radio contact with ground controllers for more than an hour before this occurred. And when air traffic controllers finally regained contact with the pilot, his answers were so vague that they reportedly feared the plane might have been hijacked.

The plane's crew has apparently now explained to authorities that they became distracted during a "heated discussion over airline policy" and lost track of their location. Right. That's like a teenage girl getting into a car accident and then explaining to her father, "I'm so sorry Daddy. I just got so caught up bragging to my friends about what a great daddy you are that I got a little distracted for a minute..." According to CNN, the FAA is investigating whether the pilots may have fallen asleep.
I suppose that the cockpit audio recordings in the plane's "black box" will quickly reveal what really happened. But neither of those two relatively straightforward explanations sound entirely correct to me. Maybe they were talking about basketball, or gladiator films:

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